Thomas E. MaCurdy

Senior Fellow
Awards and Honors:
Econometric Society (elected fellow)
Society of Labor Economists (elected fellow)
Honorary Doctorate Degree, Gothenburg University

Thomas MaCurdy holds a joint appointment as a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and a Professor of Economics at Stanford University, where he has taught since 1978. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Stanford Institute of Economic Policy Research and a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. 

MaCurdy’s expertise covers domestic policy related to government income-support and entitlement programs, with his research disclosing consequential empirical findings relevant to the design and impacts of public assistance policies. MaCurdy has published numerous articles and reports in professional journals and general-interest public policy venues, with studies analyzing policies in the areas of welfare, food stamps, earned income tax credit, minimum wages, unemployment compensation, child support, foster care, low-skilled training, federal and state taxes, social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other government aid for health care. These studies address a broad range issues, including determinants of participation rates, characteristics of beneficiaries, sources and distributions of program costs, and influences on work disincentives and incomes.

In the healthcare area, MaCurdy has conducted a wide variety of projects supporting the activities and operations of the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) and Congressional Budget Office (CBO). He works extensively on the design of payment policies. He directs major projects with CMS on the setting of Medicare payment rates in the fee-for-service (FFS), Medicare Advantage (managed care) and Part D (drugs) programs. He also currently supervises several projects supporting CMS regulatory policy responsible for the establishment and maintenance of Healthcare Exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. He has further conducted a series of studies that explore options for implementing Value Base Purchasing (VBP) in Medicare (which introduces pay-for-performance features in reimbursements) and that examine the cost drivers underlying the growth in healthcare spending. MaCurdy has performed similar work in Medicaid for a variety of government agencies, studying both the impact of payment policy and the circumstances explaining cost growth.

Among his public service activities, MaCurdy has served as a member of standing committees advising the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census, Congressional Budget Office, Institute for Research on Poverty, West Coast Poverty Center, California Health Benefits Review Program and many other state and local governmental agencies in California. He has further served in an editorial capacity for several professional journals (Econometrica, Labor Economics, Journal of Econometrics, Review of Economics and Statistics and California Policy Review).  MaCurdy received his BA in 1973 from the University of Washington and his PhD in 1978 from the University of Chicago, both in economics.

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Recent Commentary

Minimum Wage As Stealth Tax

by Thomas E. MaCurdyvia Hoover Digest
Friday, June 19, 2015

Higher minimum wages help almost nobody—but raise prices for everybody. How is that a good idea?

Analysis and Commentary

The Minimum-Wage Stealth Tax on the Poor

by Thomas E. MaCurdyvia Wall Street Journal
Sunday, February 22, 2015

Imagine an antipoverty program with the following elements: a value-added tax in which the effective rate increases as family income declines.

Cash Assistance for Needy Families: AFDC/TANF Average Monthly Caseload, 1980-2001

How Not to Mess Up a Good Thing

by Thomas E. MaCurdy, Jeffrey M. Jonesvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Welfare reform has been an unqualified success. Why? Because the federal government let the individual states decide how best to deal with their welfare recipients. Now some members of Congress are calling for more federal control over state welfare programs. Hoover fellows Jeffrey Jones and Thomas MaCurdy explain why we should leave well enough alone.

Why Are Minimum Wages So Popular?

by Thomas E. MaCurdyvia Hoover Digest
Sunday, April 30, 2000

Think the minimum wage helps the poor? Think again. By Hoover fellow Thomas Macurdy.


with Thomas E. MaCurdy, Ken Jacobs, Bishop John C. Westervia Uncommon Knowledge
Wednesday, January 26, 2000

Since 1995, more than forty city and county governments across the country have enacted living wage ordinances. What are living wage ordinances and how does the living wage differ from the minimum wage? Is a living wage ordinance the best way to help low-income families or are there more effective methods of helping those in need?

US Money Ladder
Analysis and Commentary

Why Are Minimum Wages So Popular?

by Thomas E. MaCurdyvia Hoover Daily Report
Monday, November 29, 1999

As in 1996, when we last saw an increase in the federal minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.15 an hour, political pressure is once again building to raise it by another $1.

SHOW ME THE MONEY: The Minimum Wage Debate

with Thomas E. MaCurdy, Shirley Burnell, Michael Hawkins, Eduardo Rosariovia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, May 29, 1998

Thomas MaCurdy, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and Professor at the Department of Economics, Stanford University, Shirley Burnell, Board Member of ACORN, Michael Hawkins, President of the California Restaurant Association and Eduardo Rosario, Executive Officer, San Francisco Labor Council, AFL-CIO, pose the question: Is another increase in the minimum wage good for the economy? Or is the real issue over whether there should be a minimum wage at all?

Thomas Macurdy

Is Welfare to Work Working?

by Thomas E. MaCurdy, Peter M. Robinsonvia Hoover Digest
Friday, January 30, 1998

Two years after Congress passed welfare reform, are we any nearer to seeing the end of welfare as we knew it? Hoover fellow Thomas MaCurdy recently gave Hoover fellow Peter Robinson an early assessment.


with Thomas E. MaCurdy, Eugene Smolenskyvia Uncommon Knowledge
Wednesday, April 23, 1997

Hoover fellow Thomas MaCurdy and Eugene Smolensky, Chair of Public Policy Dept., UC Berkeley discuss President Clinton's welfare reform legislation.

The Minimum Wage Was High in the First Place

by Thomas E. MaCurdy, John F. Coganvia Hoover Digest
Tuesday, April 30, 1996

Hoover fellows John F. Cogan and Thomas E. MaCurdy argue that when Congress and the president hiked the minimum wage last summer, they were making a dumb mistake. The hike hurt those it was intended to help and helped those who didn't need it. And the effective minimum wage rate was already at a historic high in the first place.